Preview RU Wide Reciever's for 2008

This article is the fourth of a ten part review of the Rutgers football team as we speculate on depth for each area of the team. Wide receiver has suddenly become an area of strength and optimism for the Scarlet Knights. Can it improve? Will the position get better and deeper? Can the new hope be sustained?

How can Rutgers fans not be optimistic regarding the wide receivers RU presently has in its stables?  How can fans not be optimistic regarding the wide receiver coach? Veteran coach Robert Jackson will be entering his 22nd season as a college football coach, of which his last four have been spent “on the banks”. Prior to Jackson’s arrival in 2005, he had coached the wide receivers at Illinois. Four of his players, Brandon Lloyd, Walter Young, Aaron Moorehead and Greg Lewis enjoyed stints in the NFL.  Under Jackson’s tutelage, that quartet helped account for 57 TD’s and 7,714 yards through the air and became the most productive quartet in the Illini’s storied football history. In Jackson’s first two seasons at Rutgers, he served as the running backs coach and helped freshman running back Raymell Rice become Rutgers' first 1,000 yard rusher since 1994.  Jackson also played a major role in tutoring All-American Brian Leonard with his pass receiving skills, helping him to become a 2nd round draft choice of the St. Louis Rams.  During 2007, in his first season as the WR coach for the Knights, he brought a new found excitement to Rutgers stadium as he helped mold Kenny Britt and Tiquan Underwood into the players they are today - both have become the first tandem of 1,000 yard receivers in school history. Here is a rundown of coach Jackson’s personnel for 2008.

 

Players Lost

Marcus Daniels – 6’2” 200 -  An all star player from Miami Central High School, he hit the field showing promise as a true freshman at Rutgers,  while appearing in 33 of 35 games over his first three years.  A severe groin injury led to a medical redshirt year in his fourth season, from which he never fully recovered. Prior to his injury, Daniels was becoming a star on special teams as well, known for his vicious hitting.

James Townsend – 6’1” 190 – A Super Prep All American coming out of Holy Cross High School of Delran, he originally signed and spent two seasons with the Iowa Hawkeyes. James was the fastest player on the Rutgers team and  contributed often with his dazzling catches on offense, beautiful kick returns, blocked kicks and fumble recoveries on special teams. He was slowed by and worked his way through many injuries during his career.

Returning Candidates

Tiquan Underwood – 6’2” 187  SR – Ti hails from Notre Dame HS of Lawrenceville [NJ] where he had been a leader at  quarterback, wide receiver, a point guard on the basketball team and a triple jump track star.  As a Scarlet Knight freshman he posted 4 catches for 47 yds and as a sophomore he jumped to 23 catches for 290 yds and 4 td’s. Last season he more than doubled his production to 62 catches for 1,028 yds and 6 TD’s.  He had many dropped passes as well during his junior campaign. Ti should be much more relaxed in his role as a senior and with tighter pass routes, improved body positioning and increased concentration while catching the ball, he could very well improve his stats once again.  Underwood has also shown flashes of brilliance as a kick returner.  He may continue that role as a senior.

Kenny Britt – 6’4” 212  JR -  Britt came to Rutgers from Bayonne HS as a Prep Star All-American.  He played in 9 games as a true freshman, starting six of the last seven. He ended up leading the team with 29 catches for 440 yards and 2 TD’s. He too was merely scratching the surface.  He followed up that first year with 56 catches for 1,107 yds and 7 TD’s.  A big, fleet footed, strong receiver, fans have to wonder what he can do for an encore.  With another great year, fans may wonder whether Britt will be tempted to leave college early.

Tim Brown – 5’8” 168  JR – Tim came to Rutgers as a speed demon, a 4 year starter from powerhouse Miami Northwestern HS.  He was named a Prep Star All-Southeast selection and was named as one of the top prospects from the State of Florida.  He played in 10 of 13 games as a true freshman and scored his first career TD on a 72 yard reception against WVU.  He ended up with 8 receptions for 202yds and 3TD’s.. a 25.2 average per catch.  As a sophomore, he recorded 22 catches for 221 yds and 2 TD’s as he garnered much more attention from defensive coordinators.  With the majority of attention being paid to Britt and Underwood Brown will have an opportunity to shine in 2007.

Dennis Campbell – 5’9” 185  JR – Coming from Plantation HS in Florida, he showed early flashes of brilliance which led many to believe he was to become the next great receiver for the Scarlet Knights. In his first season he had 11 passes for 121 yards but dropped off to a disappointing lone catch for 3 yards last season.  Dennis was relegated to special teams for most of 2007 and dropped many potential kick returns.  He is in need of a huge confidence boost if he is expected to contribute next season.  With an influx of both returning and younger talent don’t be surprised if Dennis is asked to switch to defensive back.

Julian Hayes – 6’1” 207  rsSO – A first team NY All State player from Malverne L.I., Julian has contributed mostly on special teams.  He possesses a big body and solid speed. During the 2007 spring game he appeared to be yet another answer at wide receiver, but his overall inconsistency with catching the ball was the only thing holding him back.  He’s young and if he continues to improve, could offer some relief for Britt and Underwood.  As with all interchangeable athletes, Julian could be a great defensive back if necessary.

Keith Taylor – 6’4” 197 rsJR – An enigma who had a breakout senior season at Elizabeth HS, he came to the Rutgers program with the accolades of the coaching staff and the media. A fast, big receiver, he has been injury prone with a major shoulder injury costing him an entire season.  Speculation remains regarding his status.

Robinson Alexis – 6’0” 173  rsFR  - Another speed burner from South Florida, he was a 3 year starter at West Boca Raton High School.  Another top prospect from Florida, he wasn’t needed on the field as a true freshman.  The spring game will give fans an initial glimpse and idea of where Alexis may fit in.  He also played DB while in high school, adding to the versatility offered by so many of the current Scarlet Knights.

Timothy Wright – 6’4” 206  recruit – A 4 star recruit and the #41 receiver in the country, hailing from Wall Twp,  NJ, he has the size, speed and athleticism similar to that of Kenny Britt.  Blessed with enormous hands (the size of those of a 7 footer) he has donned the nick-name “The Vacuum Cleaner” for catching everything thrown near him. Besides his overall dimensions, he runs a 4.45 forty with a 38” vertical leap. He also uses his body well.  Timothy also received offers from Iowa, Michigan State, Maryland, UConn, Cincinnati, and Syracuse.  He is willing to play safety if asked to do so, but there is no better place to receive early playing time than wide out.

Morgan Carter – 6’4” 196  recruit -  A brilliant national honor society student from C.D. Hylton High School of Woodbridge Va., Morgan brings more size and athleticism to the Rutgers wide receiving corps. He has been named to various all star teams since his freshman year of high school and held offers from UConn, Michigan State, Northwestern and Duke. He has visited Tennessee and Notre Dame.

The Rutgers wide receiver corps seems to be both top heavy with experience and flush with great young players.  More could be on the way.  Speculation has also suggested that running back recruit Rashad White may end up at the slot, as a wide receiver.

This should be an area of undisputable strength for the 2008 season.  All the players will be a year older, having significantly improved in their confidence and will carry the luxury of having a veteran quarterback controlling the offense.

Next Up:  Running Backs


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